The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad on Monday told the Bombay high court that it found no exchange of calls between former state minister Eknath Khadse and underworld don Dawood Ibrahim in a preliminary inquiry.
“No terrorist angle has been found as alleged by the hacker. No calls were exchanged between Khadse and underworld don Dawood,” ATS advocate Niteen Pradhan told a division bench of justices NH Patil and PD Naik.
Khadse, a BJP veteran from North Maharashtra who resigned last month in the wake of a string of allegations, dubbed it as a “clean chit” to him and “vindication of his innocence”.
The HC was hearing a petition filed by Gujarat-based hacker Manish Bhangale, alleging partial probe by the state machinery and seeking CBI investigation in the matter.
Bhangale claimed to have hacked the authentication process of Pakistan Telecommunication Company Ltd in April and acquired the telephone records of fugitive Dawood Ibrahim.
According to Bhangale’s petition, the records allegedly included phone calls between Dawood and Maharashtra’s former revenue minister Eknath Khadse.
“The claims made by the petitioner that the information provided by him to the state machinery has been taken lightly is not correct. We are doing the needful and a CBI probe is not required,” Pradhan said.
“Nobody believed me when I kept on saying that I had no relation with Dawood. However, people from opposition parties kept on making allegations for their ulterior motives despite my saying that I would myself resign or give up politics altogether if they are able to give even a single proof of my involvement.
“As ATS has given me a clean chit, people have now realised what is truth and what is false,” Khadse said in a message.
However, Pradhan said while no terrorist angle was found, other revelations have come to the fore.
“Certain other serious things have come to the fore during the preliminary inquiry. But those will have to be probed by experts from the city police’s cyber crime cell,” Pradhan said. “The ATS will submit its preliminary inquiry report to the cyber crime cell of the police’s crime branch, which shall then investigate.”
The high court, after recording Pradhan’s statement, directed Bhangale to appear before the crime branch as and when required and share the information he has.
“We cannot jump to the CBI every time. We have to trust and have faith in the state machinery also. If at a later stage the petitioner feels probe is not being done properly, he can approach the high court again,” the bench said, disposing of Bhangale’s petition.
On Bhangale’s fear of threat to his life, the court said he could file a representation before the police commissioner, who shall decide its merit.